November 17th, 2005
Miami City Authorities
Dade County Authorities
Mr. Eduardo Padron, President of Miami Dade County College
Mrs. Alina Interian, Director of the Miami Book Fair International
Distinguished members of the Diplomatic and Consular Community
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is an honor and a pleasure to be here in the inauguration of the Miami Book Fair International, event that has evolved into one of the largest and greatest book fairs in the Americas.
My sincere congratulations to Mr. Eduardo Padron and all the staff of the Miami Dade College and all the organizers for making it possible every year. It is great to be back in Florida for this event.
This year is a very special occasion for my country because for the first time the Colombian Pavilion opens its doors at the Fair. Allow me to invite everybody to enjoy the richness of the culture of Colombia: its music, literature and people. My sincere congratulations to Gladys Mezhari and Manouch Neme for the great effort that have been put into its realization.
Although the centerpiece of the Fair is the Congress of Authors, in which, by the way, Colombia will be represented by a new generation of talented writers, I would like to mention that the Fair not only has blossomed over the years to become a living space that promotes reading, writing and the importance of literature, but also it has become an extraordinary opportunity for the people of the Americas to come together to talk about the wonders of our cultures and discover the amazing creativity of our authors and artists.
Children could not be left out of the Fair and therefore The Children´s alley is also a marvelous and smart idea that will take them on a journey that will broaden their thoughts and horizons, given them the chance to be exposed to creativity and art.
Moreover, I would like to take this opportunity to express my solidarity with the brave people of the State of Florida who have been experiencing lately the indomitable force of Mother Nature. We all admire your determination and will to overcome all these difficulties. The inauguration of the Fair is strong evidence of your courage and commitment with the progress of the human spirit.
I could not let this occasion to pass by before I close these brief remarks without mentioning that this year we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first edition of “Don Quijote de la Mancha”, the first modern novel and a jewel of the Spanish language. Don Quixote is a terrific example of the power of literature and its transforming potential.
A number of generations have been touched by the impressive lessons of this story and the romantic ideals of Don Quixote of defending the helpless, confronting the wicked and winning love.
What a great chance for all of us to remember and honor the great value of this novel in our lives!
Good luck for all and my best wishes for the success of this remarkable event.